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We knew Microsoft has had smartwatch aspirations for some time — remember the SPOT Watches above from a decade ago? — and now it appears that such a device will work with more than just Windows Phone. Forbes reported on Thursday that Microsoft’s watch will also support Bluetooth notifications from Android and iOS handsets, which would be a clever move: Microsoft’s global smartphone share is relatively small, but expected to grow through 2018. Forbes’ sources suggest the possibility of a release within months with the watch capable of health and heart-rate tracking through optical technology from the Xbox Kinect group.

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In Brief

mi 3

The reign of the U.S. is nearly over when it comes to handset revenues. Research firm Strategy Analytics pegs 2014 as the year that China unseats the U.S. thanks to an expected 430 million handset sales in China by year-end. That’s far and away above the 163 million to be sold in the U.S. All of those phones in China will produce revenues of $87 billion, compared to the $60 billion for U.S. phone sales. The revenue figures show that the U.S. market is skewed higher to expensive smartphones, unlike China whose smartphone growth is in the early stages while 3G and 4G networks are built out.

In Brief

samsung round watch pinch

Although granted patents aren’t always implemented in actual products, Samsung could build a round-faced smartwatch similar to the upcoming Moto 360. SammyToday gathered up a number of images and descriptions from the May 22 patent grant, showing a circular watch face that can be controlled through touch or various gestures as seen by a sensor on the device. You could, for example, do a pinch and zoom gesture from your hand that isn’t wearing the watch. If Samsung does create a watch based on these patents, it’s likely to run the company’s own Tizen software, not Google’s Android wear which will power the Moto 360.

In Brief

iPhone 5C blue
photo: Apple

First appearing in several European Union regions, in March the lower-cost 8 GB model of Apple’s iPhone 5c is now available in India. The handset costs Rs 33,500 ($573.39 US) after a reported Rs 4,000  cash rebate from Apple according to The Times of India, and includes a free case. 9to5 Mac notes that the limited storage works out to a RS 6,300 savings compared to the base 16 GB model which costs RS 39,800 after rebate. With either model, Apple won’t likely find much of a foothold: There are dozens of lower costing alternatives running Google Android and Windows Phone software available.

In Brief

Asus Chromebook C200 angle

Pre-orders for the first Asus Chromebook have begun with Amazon charging $249 for the Chrome OS laptop and shipments expected on June 26. The C200 is an 11.6-inch Chromebook that uses the newer Intel(s intc) BayTrail-M processor instead of the fairly standard Haswell-based Celeron chip found in most current Chromebooks. That’s likely a step-down in performance but with the benefit of even more battery life: Asus says you can expect 10 to 11 hours of runtime from the 2.5 pound laptop. The C200 supplements the already available $179 Asus Chromebox and a larger C300 Chromebook coming soon.

Microsoft Surface event 2014

Microsoft is holding a Surface event in New York City and we’re there. The company is widely expected to launch a small Surface Mini tablet but there could be more than just a single new device today. Hopefully, Microsoft will update on how the Surface line is doing as well. Read more »

In Brief

Samsung Group_Gear 2_Gear 2 Neo
photo: Samsung

U.K.-based research firm Strategy Analytics figures that Samsung took 71 percent of the smartwatch market in the first quarter of 2014, with an estimated 500,000 smartwatches sold. Android Beat noted the milestone on Monday saying the sales estimates don’t include return rates. The company has since launched new models that run on its Tizen platform instead of Android, setting up a big showdown for next month. Google’s I/O developer event takes place in June where it will further detail Android Wear software for smartwatches. LG and Motorola plan to launch Android Wear devices at or soon after the event, offering Google Now contextual notifications on the wrist.

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